The hardest craft to take under your wing when it comes to entertainment is and always will be comedy.Whether its television, radio, theater and especially stand up comedy, it is not an easy feat to pull off. I mean, people are coming from let’s say a terrible day at work where his/her boss fired a 500-word speech about how terrible the cup of coffee he/she brewed. All they expect now, is time to unwind with a bottle of beer, a few buddies (that hate their respective bosses as much) and a couple of chuckles. And there you are up on stage, just praying that you have 10 minutes of insane courage to face possible hecklers and pull off the jokes you think are funny, but the audience may not.
This is stand up comedy.
Punchline is no different.
The area is much like any comedy bar you go to. Lights are dim, high chairs and tables for the back row to enjoy; short tables up in front for the poor folks that the comedians will poke fun of the rest of the night. The only lights to brighten up the place are the lights that flash every now and then on stage, and sometimes on the audience. Strobe lights go off to add excitement to the currently hot pop or R&B track that is booming on the oversized speakers on the side of the place. The normal head lights with different colors add depth and emotion to the stage and comedian. Spotlight, of course to give focus on who is poking the fun and who they are poking fun at. Definitely, the lights are an important part of the show because it helps out the audience to get pumped up for what is to come, as well as to keep them up because after all, it is late at night and they are downing a lot of alcoholic drinks.
Apart from the lights, one thing that helps the performances is the sound effects. The typical drum rhythm when one gives a joke: “Ba Dum Tss” is reinvented in Punchline as a more techno version is played whenever a joke is laid out. This helps the audience to actually catch the joke or realize that a joke was said (usually accompanied by “Ano?! What did he say again?”).
Speaking of the audience, I spoke about the people who comes in for these shows earlier on and I’d like to focus on the fact that during that night,The demographics would start from this age range: 23 -late 30’s. I did see groups of yuppies enjoying a night out with friends. Although I did notice that some groups came with families (Yes, even the lolo and lola’s) while others would be with their significant others. The main thing is, it was a rare sight to see that only one person came to the comedy bar because it must be better to have someone to laugh with right? But I did notice a woman, adjacent to my table, with a platter of nachos and a bucket of beer on her table. And there she was, chewing and glugging the night away. And I thought: “Well, isn’t this depressing.” Funny how an energetic, fun and well..happy atmosphere can still attract a completely opposite emotion. Maybe the comedians weren’t funny enough? The drinks don’t hit too hard? The air-conditioning was bad? Who knows.
When it comes to the jokes and the performance per sé, it had a specific equation that I aptly dubbed: ” The Elation Equation”
It goes like this:
Voice over intro
+ Bright lights
+ 1 or 2 song numbers
+ warning and disclaimer
+ advertise the food and drinks
+ poke fun at audience (and you may bring one up on stage)
+ rehearsed jokes
= 1 performance.
Some may have found it entertaining, it got predictable for me. Promoting the drinks and food was also something I’d like to be omitted but then again, this is their revenue and punchline supports and promotes these acts only if they create revenue from the bills on each table. So, I could let the whole ad break go.
The thing is, most comedians on the show were gay and that usually adds to their advantage as a comedian because they are amiable characters, that you can be entertained simply the way they look and the clothes they wear.
Though I do give credit when it is due, and that is the ad-lib portion of their performance. THey did smart word play and stupid senseless jokes that does, I admit, tickle my critical funny bones. Although most of the jokes were mostly, green, they did add a bit of wit to it. But then again, the comedians do cater to an older crowd, thus the reason why they are comfortable in giving green jokes.But then again, if you planned to come to a bar like this, you will expect a lot of that coming in your way. And even though some jokes were racially and sexually discriminant, the fact that they added a disclaimer, to remind the people: “Hey this is all for fun; anyone who we may be harsh on verbally, I hope that you don’t get offended because it is all just for fun and laughs.” will have to be reminded.
With a support of an equation or not, comedy has different solutions to go about solving how to give a great performance. It’s a learning process for both the audience and the comedian. You learn what you want to perform and what you don’t, what makes you smile and what doesn’t. Nevertheless even an amateur comedy critic like me knows that the punchline here is not to take things too seriously.
Jazmin Y. Reyes